The crucible of struggle…

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Scripture: Mark 9:30 (Jesus and his disciples) went on from there and passed through Galilee. He did not want anyone to know it; 31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is to be betrayed into human hands, and they will kill him, and three days after being killed, he will rise again.” 32 But they did not understand what he was saying and were afraid to ask him.

Observation: v.32 tells us the disciples were mostly unable to comprehend what was to come (see v.32) because it was so far removed from their expectations. What were their expectations?

  1. Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah who would be a political and military ruler in the mold of King David centuries before him
  2. They would rule alongside Jesus in positions of authority and power
  3. Since Jesus was indeed the Son of God, God the Father would never let anything bad happen to Jesus.

They were wrong on all counts.

A key pillar of Western thinking in the 21st century is our high regard for human life – the value of the individual. We will go to extraordinary lengths, spare almost no expense, to save just one person. And, as one might expect, we tend to project our value system onto God. Surely God would never intentionally do anything that would harm a human life. He only wants good things for his children. Right?

Well, yes and no.

Yes, God the Father values human life deeply – enough to send his only son Jesus to die for all humanity. And, yes, God wants good things for his children. HOWEVER…

The value of an individual does not exceed the priority of God’s Kingdom purposes.

Not only was Jesus going to actually die, several of his disciples would give their lives for the sake of the gospel as well. Did God love Jesus and the disciples who would become martyrs? Of course. Was their sacrifice necessary to advance God’s Kingdom agenda? Yes. It was.

Application: We have a hard time imagining that God might intentionally send us into a season of great difficulty and struggle – or even death – but it happens. Sometimes there are important character elements we can only receive via the crucible of struggle – things like patience, endurance, contentment, mercy. The apostle Paul in the New Testament and the patriarch Joseph in the Old Testament book of Genesis come to mind.

Some of you reading this blog post are in such a place, though you may not be aware of it. Some of the greatest gifts of God’s Kingdom are only available to us via the “the pit” of struggle. So perhaps, rather than asking the Lord to get us out of a difficult place, we might ask the Lord to give us grace to endure as long as it takes to accomplish his purposes via our difficult season. Think about it. Pray about it.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, your purposes and designs are sometimes a mystery to us. Give us grace to embrace your will even when it’s hard. Or painful. Or both. Amen.

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